I was watching the movie Kundun, the true story of the 14th Dalai Lama. One of the things that struck me was how peaceful he was. The actor radiated a deep calm. I understand the real Dalai Lama does too, even under catastrophic circumstances such as those portrayed in the movie.
As part of their
spiritual practice, the Buddhists in Tibet say prayers to bring
enlightenment to all beings. They wish others well and pray that people
find happiness and peace.
I have tried this and found
it feels good. Wishing others well — only in my head, now, I'm not
talking about saying anything aloud — feels soothing and calming. One of
the most distressing experiences is being angry at people and feeling
hurt by them.
The habit of wishing others well
counteracts those feelings very directly. It makes sense that the
practice would lead to peace and calm.
If you were in
almost continual prayer or meditation, you could probably remain as
tranquil as a holy person, no matter what happened. I know, I know,
that's crazy, right? You've got a life to live, and you're not about to
meditate your life away. But I'm thinking more along these lines: What
if when you met with someone, you occasionally said something like this
to yourself, "May you find happiness." (Buddhists believe the most
fundamental desire of all people is to be happy.)
would that do to your state of mind? What if while you were walking to
your car to go to work, you said a silent prayer for all beings? What
state would that put you in? Would you be calmer or more tolerant if
someone tailgated you? I think you would. And why not? Most of the
negative thoughts we think about other people are worse than worthless.
Why not replace those thoughts with blessings for people?
when I say "blessing," I don't necessarily mean anything religious. I'm
not a religious person at all. You've probably guessed that already. I
just mean wishing others well. If you want to think of it as asking God
for it, or directing some kind of cosmic energy, or using "mind power"
or simply wishing it or intending it (and perhaps imagining or believing
that your intentions have a magical effect on reality), the effect on
your own body would probably the same no matter how you did it.
I've been trying out this idea, and it has some very good effects. I haven't ascended yet, but I'm working on it.
night a friend of mine really got on my back. We were working on a
project together, but she was all over me, overseeing me and questioning
me to make sure I hadn't forgotten anything or to make sure I was doing
it right, and she was very intense about it.
got up this morning, I thought about last night and I was mad at her.
And resentful. But I tried this method — I made a wish that she find
happiness in her life — and immediately it changed my feelings toward
her. It changed the way I saw her behavior last night.
wish her well, I had to shift myself to a different point of view and
from the new perspective, it was clear to me she meant well and that
reminded me that she's a decent, kind person who has been very good to
It is as if the act of blessing her disengaged me
or unhooked me from my self-righteousness, and I became more of the kind
of person I want to be. My emphasis here is in how wishing someone well
impacts the well-wisher. But it might influence the other person too. Read more about that here.
invite you to try it. Give a silent prayer of good wishes — happiness,
well-being, peace — for someone. This is good for you and it might be
good for them too.
Sometimes praying for others' well-being feels like a job and you just don't feel like it. When that's the case, wish yourself well. You probably need it.
Adam Khan is the author of Self-Reliance, Translated and Principles For Personal Growth. Follow his podcast, The Adam Bomb.